Monday, June 25, 2018

Cearns to direct alternative delivery for WSP’s northeast and central regions

Denny Cearns has been named director of alternative delivery for the northeast and central regions of WSP USA, formerly WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, an engineering and professional services consultancy. Based in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, Cearns will manage the pursuit and execution of projects using alternative delivery methods covering various markets, including highways, transit and rail, and aviation, drawing on the firm’s extensive experience in alternative project delivery, including design-build and public-private partnerships (P3). Cearns will focus on identifying and applying best practices to improve efficiency, identify and mitigate project risks, and meet cost and schedule objectives.
“Having Denny Cearns join us as part of our alternate delivery team strengthens our focus on delivery and relationships with contractors. We are pleased to have him on our team,” says Fred Tallarico, the firm’s national director of alternative delivery. “Denny’s strong leadership skills are a welcome addition to supplement our efforts and acumen in alternate delivery service with contractors and concessionaires,” adds Bernie McNeilly, chief operating officer of WSP’s U.S. transportation and infrastructure business.
Prior to joining WSP, Cearns served as alternative delivery director for a major professional services firm, responsible for strategic planning and business development, contract development and negotiation, and supervision of project operations. His experience includes managing the firm’s work on one of the largest public works projects in Nevada, which involved improvements to I-15 along the Las Vegas strip. He also served as the design director for the Purple Line Transit P3 Project in Maryland.
A licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Washington, Cearns holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington. He is affiliated with the Design-Build Institute of America.
WSP helps cities, transit authorities, redevelopment agencies, and developers structure alternative delivery transactions, secure federal, state and local public finance resources, and integrate private investment into public infrastructure projects. The firm’s alternative delivery practice provides public sector planning, procurement advisory and contract administration, and private investor advisory services to advance infrastructure development. With its knowledge of the P3 market and the operation and management of infrastructure assets, WSP also provides investor advisory services to buyers or sellers seeking to maximize value with acceptable risk.
WSP USA, formerly WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, is the U.S. operating company of WSP, an engineering and professional services firms. Dedicated to serving local communities, we are engineers, planners, technical experts, strategic advisors and construction management professionals. WSP USA designs solutions in the buildings, transportation, energy, water and environment sectors. With more than 7,000 people in 100 offices across the U.S., we partner with our clients to help communities prosper. For more information, visit

Sunday, June 10, 2018

NCSU researchers improve food bank effectiveness and equity

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed new computer models to improve the ability of food banks to feed as many people as possible, as equitably as possible, while reducing food waste. Food banks serve as networks, collecting food from many different sources and distributing it to local agencies that then share it with people in need. The researchers, who launched this project eight years ago, quickly realized that there is a great deal of uncertainty in food bank operations. Supply and demand both fluctuate, which researchers anticipated.
“But we found that capacity – the ability of local agencies to collect, transport, store and distribute food – was also variable,” says Julie Ivy, a professor of industrial and systems engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper on the work. “These agencies are often small and rely heavily on volunteers. “Our goal was to develop models that account for uncertainty in a food bank network’s capacity and can help food banks distribute food efficiently and equitably – ensuring all of the regions served by the food bank are treated fairly – while minimizing food waste.”
“Our work here was conducted with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, but these are challenges that are common to most, if not all, food banks, as well as for national food collection and distribution networks, such as Feeding America,” says Irem Sengul Orgut, a former Ph.D. student at NC State and lead author of the paper. Orgut now works for Lenovo.
For this project, the researchers developed two models, which can be used in conjunction with each other. The first model uses historical data to establish ranges of how much capacity each county has. The model then uses those ranges, in conjunction with each county’s needs, to determine how food supplies should be distributed. The second model takes into account each county’s need and capacity – or ability to distribute food in a timely way – to try to feed as many people as possible, as equitably as possible, across counties before the food goes bad.
“Some counties have agencies with more volunteers, more refrigerated storage, or better transportation resources, allowing them to distribute more food before it goes bad,” says Reha Uzsoy, a co-author of the paper and Clifton A. Anderson Distinguished Professor in NC State’s Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering. “But if those counties get all the food, it wouldn’t be equitable – other counties would suffer. The second model aims to find the best possible balance of those two factors.”
“We now have these two models, which are pretty complex,” Ivy says. “We’re currently working with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina to find ways to implement the models that are user friendly for food bank staff and volunteers.”
Specifically, the researchers are working with North Carolina A&T University and a company called Performigence to develop software that can be used to expand these models and put them into use. That work is being done with support from the National Science Foundation, under a grant titled PFI:BIC – Flexible, Equitable, Efficient, and Effective Distribution (FEEED).
“This work is relevant to food banks, broadly, but the fundamental issues are also relevant to disaster relief efforts,” Ivy says. “Really, any situation in which there is a scarce resource, a need for equity, and a robust suite of challenges in distributing the resource. As a result, this may also be of interest to disaster relief researchers.”

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Nine GAI Consultants employees graduate from Point Park University MBA program

In partnership with Point Park University in Pittsburgh, GAI Consultants (GAI) recently graduated its fourth on-site Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree class. The University’s corporate MBA was launched in the fall of 2009, with GAI among the first businesses in the Pittsburgh region to take advantage of the program.
GAI’s degree program was designed with employee needs in mind, with course topics and projects related to the firm’s business and industry. The accelerated, fully accredited MBA program is a cornerstone of GAI’s in-house leadership development initiative and is open to all GAI employees who meet the minimum requirements. Point Park University professors teach classes exclusively to GAI employees at the firm’s Pittsburgh office once a week, with telecasting via Skype for Business available for employees at other locations.

The current MBA class includes nine employees from four of the firm’s 25 offices:
o    Pittsburgh-based Todd Wilson, PE, senior project engineer
o    Indianapolis-based Michael Wenning, PE, transportation services director
o    Murrysville-based Alexandria Brunstad, project technical specialist; David Bevilacqua, assistant vice president; and Tim Lonas, project EIT
o    Orlando-based Peter Sechler, PLA, AICP, assistant vice president; Abner Serrano, senior EI; Aimee Shields, PE, senior engineering manager; and Jeffrey Tuell, PE,  engineering manager

Gary DeJidas, PE, MBA, CEO and board chairman, GAI Consultants remarks: “It gives me great pride to celebrate the successful graduation of GAI’s fourth MBA class. This unique partnership with Point Park University affords GAI staff a tremendous opportunity for career growth and personal achievement. Congratulations to each and every graduate for achieving this milestone.”

With offices throughout the eastern and midwestern United States, 60-year-old, GAI Consultants is an employee-owned company that delivers engineering, planning, and environmental expertise to energy, transportation, development, government, and industrial clients worldwide. For more information, visit